Bill James has been called "the Elmore Leonard of Britain's underworld" (Kirkus Reviews) and has been named a "Master of Crime" in a mystery roundup by the London Sunday Times, which said, "There is nothing else quite like this series of police procedurals. James is concerned with the dilemmas and difficulties of policing Britain's inner cities, and he addresses these in hard-edged narratives that leave readers gasping and flinching, praying the people in these stories never come to live in their streets." In addition to the Harpur and Iles series, James is the author of other mystery series and a book on Anthony Powell. He lives in Wales.
An ongoing gentleman's war between cops and local drug dealers takes a deadly turn when someone firebombs the house of a smalltime dealer in James's stellar new Harpur and Iles mystery (Panicking Ralph, etc.). Is it one of the resident drug magnates, perhaps Panicking Ralph Ember or Mansel Shale, looking to take over complete control? Or are outside forces moving in again from London or elsewhere? As in an uneasy marriage, Harpur-superintendent of detectives in an unnamed British city-puts up with the vanity, jealousy and questionable moral behavior of his superior, assistant chief constable Iles. The dialogue between the two sizzles like small-scale lightning. "I see you as like General de Gaulle, sir-you know, waiting at Colombey les Deux Eglises for the call to put things right," Harpur replies when Iles asks him several deaths later if he's still on his side. James's loyal band of readers should appreciate the acid rain of his irony. Agent, Maureen Walters at Curtis Brown. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.